Asian Small-clawed Otter

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Unlike other otters that catch prey with their mouths, this species uses their partially webbed paws, short claws, and sensitive fingers.

PEETA

  • Was born in February 2008 at Fort Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA
  • Was named by donors after a character in The Hunger Games; his previous companion Katniss was also named after a HG character, but she passed away in December 2016 after a prolonged kidney ailment
  • Is considered “laid back” and “easygoing” by keepers, likes playing with his food in the large pool
  • Is very quick to train, and responds to around ten different commands

GAIL

  • Was born in November 2013 at Greensboro Science Center, NC, and arrived at the Zoo in March 2017
  • Was named by donors after Gale, the second of Katniss’ love interests in The Hunger Games franchise; spelling was changed to a female version
  • Looks almost exactly like Peeta, except has more whiskers
  • Is very “talkative,” and her vocalizations sound like mouse squeaks
  • Bonded quickly with Peeta, and likes to put her tail over his head

NEW PUPS

  • Two females and one male born in a nesting box behind the scenes on October 7, 2017
  • Are carefully watched over by first-time parents Peeta and Gail, who share parenting duties
  • Remained in holding area for 11 weeks until their eyes opened, they grew teeth to eat solid food, and it was safe for them to venture out into the exhibit
  • Began swimming lessons, under parents’ watchful eyes, in their enclosure’s small pool on December 21, 2017

From the Keeper

“If Peeta wants something, he tilts his head to the side as if to say, ‘I’m so cute!’ He also knows his name. If I tell him ‘Peeta, no,’ he will stop whatever he’s doing. Then he puts his head to the side and tries that cute face.” -Heather

Conservation Status

The IUCN Red List confirms that this species is “Vulnerable,” due to habitat loss and poaching.

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The otter pups explore their exhibit for the first time.

Dexterous Hunters

The smallest of all the 13 otter species, Asian small-clawed otters’ claws do not extend beyond the ends of their fingers and toes — thus the name. They use their dexterous paws to feel through mud, in crevices, and under rocks in search of their next meal of freshwater snails, clams, crabs, crawfish, and frogs. In contrast, local Southern sea otters use their mouths to hunt and utilize tools like rocks to crack open sea snails and urchins.